Free Speech – A Waning Right In America?
CMF does not say what qualifies as offensive, but if this summer is any indication that definition would include anything that the Congressman did not want to talk about. In other words, this report urges Congressmen not to actually interact with their constituents, but to avoid them altogether by holding safe townhalls they can completely control. And what did CMF find where the results of these Potemkin townhalls?
The online town halls increased constituents’ approval of the Member. Every Member involved experienced an increase in approval by the constituents who participated. The average net approval rating (approve minus disapprove) jumped from +29 before the session to +47 after. There were also similar increases in trust and perceptions of personal qualities – such as whether they were compassionate, hardworking, accessible, etc. – of the Member.
The lesson: avoid your constituents’ inconvenient questions and your approval ratings will rise. And this is a taxpayer funded study.
Congress is actually using your tax dollars to pay social scientists to find ways they can avoid actually talking to their constituents while improving their chances of reelection.
Anyone in Congress who uses this method in lieu of face to face contact should be automatically voted out. They don’t seem to mind meeting us in person when asking to represent us during the campaign, but apparently once they are in the least actual contact and real communication the better.
This doesn’t seem to apply, however, to when they are groveling for our forgiveness. Such was the case yesterday when various members of the Republican party horned in on the People’s Housecall in Washington, D.C. Rep Michele Bachmann, (R)-MN, who is one of the few heroes in Washington D.C., and who does her job effectively, had put out a call for citizens who could to meet her at the Capital steps Thursday at noon. From trustworthy accounts of the rally, 25,000-30,000 taxpayers came out. Hooray for those who sacrificed their time, hard earned money, and effort to do so.
The rally was supposed to last an hour, it lasted two. This thanks to many opportunistic Congressmen and Congresswomen who wanted to feign kinship with the protesters. Pardon my attitude, it’s just that if they were really doing their jobs, we wouldn’t be in the predicament we are in. Many of them have been there for years, and, without apology, have taken part in the fleecing of America. Perhaps not all, I understand that, but why wait until a campaign to oust all office holders to “stand up” for our principles? Too little, too late? That’s a personal decision every voter will have to decide for themselves. They urged everyone to bombard the three Congressional office buildings, and even provided a map and guidance. I had to wonder if they would have been so bold if it were Republicans were the target of the frustration? My feeling is they would have been hiding under their desks or running for their nose plugs like Harry Reid.
It was encouraging to see all of them standing on the Capital steps, heralding the praises of our forefathers and Constitution. I can only pray they mean it. I am fairly sure, Michele Bachmann excluded, it was the fear that still grips them after learning of the size of the crowd, an estimated 1.7 million marchers, on 09/12/2009. That, I feel, was their “come to Jesus” moment.
Time will tell and I am grateful, newcomer or not, for every Constitutionalist in the halls of the Capital. There are many battles before us and we can use all the help we can get.
They can start by doing all in their power to thwart any plans to clamp down on free speech.
A World Net Daily article recently pointed out that a group of major religious denominations and organizations, launched a petition to the FCC requesting it investigate “hate speech in the media” citing their feeling that hate speech may play a role in “hate crimes”. This came immediately on the heels of “hate crimes” legislation, offering special protections to crimes committed against those enjoying “alternative” lifestyles, being inappropriately inserted into a military appropriations bill. WND states:
- The petition is promoted by members of the “So We Might See” coalition that includes the United Church of Christ, the U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops, the Islamic Society of North America, United Methodist Communications, Presbyterian Church (USA) and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
- “The possible correlation between hate speech and violent crime gives us great pause. Immigrant, minority, and religious populations are often targets of hate speech before they are subsequently the target of physical hate crimes,” the petition says.
“Hate speech in the media is a growing problem that must be examined before it can be solved. So We Might See supports efforts to increase the resources available to the public to understand hate speech. As members of the faith community, we will do our part to ask our members to raise their own voices condemning hate speech when they see it and to ask for all citizens to conduct themselves with civility,” it says.
The move, however, was so controversial that the U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops, while a part of the coalition, refused to sign on to the petition.
“USCCB supports the establishment of a broad public forum to debate the difficult constitutional and regulatory issues, including the potential danger to religious speech, raised by the petitioners,” it said in a separate statement. “We are asking the FCC to make available a proceeding where the public can attempt to describe speech anyone deems harmful, and where the public (including Catholics and the bishops) can raise important constitutional constraints on government action regarding speech, including religious speech.
“We are not participating in any campaign to censor any organization, program or commentator,” the organization said.
- It was nice to hear Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton say on October 26, “I strongly disagree” with Islamic countries seeking to censor free speech worldwide by making defamation of religion a crime under international law.
- But watch what the Obama administration does, not just what it says. I’m not talking about its attacks on Fox News. I’m talking about a little-publicized October 2 resolution in which Clinton’s own State Department joined Islamic nations in adopting language all-too-friendly to censoring speech that some religions and races find offensive.
- The ambiguously worded United Nations Human Rights Council resolution could plausibly be read as encouraging or even obliging the U.S. to make it a crime to engage in hate speech, or, perhaps, in mere “negative racial and religious stereotyping.” This despite decades of First Amendment case law protecting such speech.
- To be sure, the provisions to which I refer were a compromise, stopping short of the flat ban on defamation of religion sought by Islamic nations, and they could also be construed more narrowly and innocuously. It all depends on who does the construing.
- …I sketch below how the resolution could be construed to require prosecuting some offensive speech and how it could be used in the long run to change the meaning of our Constitution and laws, based on doctrines developed by legal academics including Obama appointee Harold Koh, the State Department’s top lawyer.Also troublesome on the free-speech front are various remarks by Mark Lloyd, the Federal Communications Commission’s associate general counsel and chief diversity officer. Lloyd asserted in a 2006 book, “The purpose of free speech is warped to protect global corporations and block rules that would promote democratic governance.” He co-authored a 2007 report calling for regulatory changes to close “the gap between conservative and progressive talk radio.” In 2008, he praised the “incredible … democratic revolution” of Hugo Chavez and implied approval of the thuggish Venezuelan strongman’s pattern of shutting down news media opposed to him.
That’s how I read Lloyd’s videotaped statement, first aired by Glenn Beck of Fox News, in which he said: “The property owners and the folks who then were controlling the media rebelled [against Chavez], worked, frankly, with folks here in the U.S. government, worked to oust him. But he came back with another revolution, and then Chavez began to take very seriously the media in his country.”
Then there was the June 5 high school commencement speech in which White House Communications Director Anita Dunn called Mao Zedong — one of history’s greatest mass murderers and an implacable enemy of free speech — one of “my favorite political philosophers.” Dunn has, coincidentally, been the point person in President Obama’s attacks on Fox News.
- …The council’s October 2 resolution is ostensibly an endorsement of “freedom of opinion and expression,” which seems ironic, given the track records of such members as China, Cuba, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia.
But the real problem is a provision, which the U.S. championed jointly with Egypt, exuding hostility to free expression.
That provision “expresses its concern that incidents of racial and religious intolerance, discrimination and related violence, as well as of negative racial and religious stereotyping continue to rise around the world, and condemns, in this context, any advocacy of national, racial, or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility, or violence, and urges States to take effective measures, consistent with their obligations under international human-rights law, to address and combat such incidents” (emphasis added).
Then there’s this by Drew Zahn at WND:
- The troubles for Professor Thomas Thibeault of East Georgia College seem to have begun during an Aug. 5 faculty sexual harassment training seminar, when he questioned the assertion – as he understood it – being presented by Mary Smith, the school’s vice president for legal affairs, that the feelings of the offended constituted proof of offensive behavior.
- “What provision is there in the sexual harassment policy to protect the accused against complaints which are malicious or … ridiculous?” Thibeault asked.
- According to Thibeault’s description of the events, Smith replied, “There is no provision in the policy. I must emphasize that if the person feels offended then the incident must be reported to the college authorities.”
- “So there is no protection against a false accusation?” Thibeault pressed.
- “No,” Smith is said to have responded.
- “Then the policy itself is flawed,” commented Thibeault.
- Two days later, a police chief was waiting to escort Thibeault off campus. The professor, under the circumstances, believed he was fired.
- Then in subsequent weeks, Thibeault was informed his contract would not be renewed for the following year and that a faculty committee had concluded he violated the college’s sexual harassment policy. For doing what, for saying what, Thibeault still doesn’t know.
- … Said FIRE spokesman Adam Kissel, “The professor still has not received anything in writing detailing what he is accused of doing. … If professors can’t engage in vigorous debate on college campuses, who can?”
- But the letter from FIRE to the school got down to business:
- “The Supreme Court has explicitly held on numerous occasions that speech cannot be restricted simply because it offends people. In ‘Street v. New York,’ 394 U.S. 576, 592 (1969), the court held that ‘[i]t is firmly settled that under our Constitution the public expression of ideas may not be prohibited merely because the ideas are themselves offensive to some of their hearers.’ In ‘Papish v. Board of Curators of the University of Missouri,’ 410 U.S. 667, 670 (1973), the court held that ‘the mere dissemination of ideas – no matter how offensive to good taste – on a state university campus may not be shut off in the name alone of “conventions of decency,”‘ it warned the school.
- School officials declined to enter the conversation.
- FIRE officials said Thibeault was notified Oct. 20 “that he had been reinstated due to lack of evidence.”
- But then Black issued the professor a “‘reprimand’ for unspecified ‘offensive’ speech – again without presenting any notice, hearing, evidence or witnesses.”
- When given the opportunity to do this article, I started thinking back to the events leading up to my typing four words on the computer, “ONE VOICE AGAINST SOCIALISM” and taking the printout to a local office supply store to have it enlarged and laminated on a large poster.
- That step was easy enough. It wasn’t as easy for me to gather the courage to take a lawn chair to the heavily traveled intersections of Hwy K and Hwy N in O’Fallon, MO and sit there beside the road with my sign, wondering if someone might confront me verbally or worse. But as passersby began to honk horns and wave and give me thumbs up, my apprehension turned to excitement and motivation because I sensed that many other people agreed with me.
- Never in my lifetime have I seen anything in this country like what has unfolded before us in the last year. I have watched in shock and disbelief as the following events, and others not listed, have occurred under this administration. This president has never been subjected to any tough questions by the adoring mainstream media and press corps (his cheerleaders). My perception is that every event is carefully scripted with friendly individuals planted in the audience to ask softball questions.
- I also believe this administration is so arrogant and convinced they have a mandate to “fundamentally change America” that they are brazenly forging ahead to destroy our economy and make this a socialist/Marxist country. This president has a silver tongue (as long as the TelePrompTer works). People voted for his charm and good looks, and against George Bush and the war, completely ignoring Obama’s thin resume, empty suit, shadowy friends and far left voting record. Just now common sense Americans are waking up to the fact that America has been hijacked by the far left wing of the Democratic Party and that with control of both houses of Congress and the presidency, they can and are doing whatever they please with no checks and balances. It isn’t helping that our so-called Republican leadership is spineless. The least they could be doing is jumping up and down screaming “Treason!”
- Some of the many reasons I’m out protesting include:
- Michelle Obama (on video) stated “For the first time in my adult life I am proud of my country.” Who would have believed that such a brazenly anti-American, chip-on-her-shoulder woman would end up as first “lady?”
- Jeremiah Wright, pastor of the Chicago church the Obamas attended for twenty years, (on video) spewed out hatred of America with comments such as “G*d damn America.” How many of us would sit back and listen to that kind of preaching for 20 years and not change churches (unless we agreed with it)? Has anyone heard Obama speak out against Wright’s sermons? His silence speaks volumes.
- The Obamas’ close friendship with terrorist William Ayres is very disturbing to me. My parents taught us as children that we are known by the company we keep and that birds of a feather flock together. Obama has appointed 44+ czars, some of whom are admitted Marxists/communists and have published books promoting these radical beliefs. I heard Van Jones, a self-described communist, now the eco czar, speaking (on radio) about suicidal gray capitalism. In a speech at Berkeley, he referred to all Republicans with a vulgar expletive. It appears to me that Obama has surrounded himself with revolutionaries who have evil intentions. I fear for my country and for my children and grandchildren. Too many detrimental things are happening too quickly and against the best interests of America.
- How dare this president apologize for my country either here or when visiting foreign countries! America is the greatest nation in the world. Our troops have fought and died all around the world for freedom, NOT for socialism. We are the most generous people in the world, always there first to help in any disaster and constantly giving food and money to less prosperous nations. If he doesn’t believe we are the greatest country in the world, he has no business being president. Other than having the power to implement radical changes, why would he even want to be the president of a country for which he holds such contempt?
- I watched the video of Obama bowing to a Saudi king. The administration tried to explain it away. Have you heard the expression, “Are you going to believe me or your lying eyes?” America’s president should bow to no worldly king!
- This president stated (on video) that we are not a Christian nation. I disagree, as do millions of other Christians across this country. Our nation was founded upon Christian principles. George Washington was administered the Oath of Affirmation of office as prescribed by Article II Section 1, on April 29th, 1789, to which he added: “So help me God.” “In God We Trust” is on our money and inscribed on our national monuments. Clearly Christians exclusively are under siege by this administration and not a word of reprisal from the mainstream media, all of whom are in bed with Obama. Never for a moment would the media tolerate vile remarks against Muslims, but it’s fine against Christianity. Thank God for FOX News and conservative talk radio, the only places where the truth is exposed. And now, the Obama administration, under the guise of the Fairness Doctrine, is attempting to shut down our First Amendment rights of freedom of speech.
- Another video clip showed Hugo Chavez receiving a big hug and glowing praise from Obama. This thug dictator got just what he wanted from an American president, legitimacy and photo ops. Obama played right into his hands.
- The recent happenings of attempted curtailment of free speech, control of the Internet, and now indoctrination of our children in their classrooms are all reminiscent of similar happenings in Germany in the mid and late 1930’s. We all know what happened to personal freedoms after that.
- The list goes on: all the bailouts, out of control government spending, takeovers of private corporations, nightmare healthcare reform legislation that will ration healthcare for seniors and people with special needs. (This infuriates me because I have an autistic grandchild). It will lead to long wait times for diagnostic testing and surgeries, resulting in many preventable deaths, substandard healthcare, bankrupting our nation, and placing so much debt on our children and grandchildren that they will never realize the American Dream.
- The administration is going after the CIA agents who have kept our country safe from another attack by terrorists for the past eight years. This is exactly the kind of policy that gutted the CIA in Clinton’s administration and led up to the 9-11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Could it be that a weakened CIA where agents are intimidated by fear of prosecution and therefore don’t pursue investigations, would be beneficial to this administration?
- What about the insanely restricted interrogation methods our troops in Afghanistan now have to follow? They require that captured terrorists be flown out of the area within 48 hours, making it virtually impossible to get useful information from these prisoners due to the time constraint. Does anyone else wonder why this is happening?
In summary, I’m out there protesting on the street corner because I am scared to death for the future of our country. I am angry and totally fed up with this administration and all of the politicians as a whole, and I am not going to take it any more! Too much is at stake to sit on the sidelines. I sense deep inside that something is terribly wrong inside our government and that these anti-American, anti-capitalism czars are intentionally pushing our country quickly down the road to bankruptcy and socialism/Marxism. I believe that this administration is looking for any excuse, including accusations of civil disorder by those of us daring to peacefully protest, to declare martial law so they can take control and shut down media opposition. I hope and pray that I am wrong. And I hope and pray that God allows us more time to unite against and stop what I perceive to be treason against America.
We are stewards of the America that we pass on our children and grandchildren. Are you willing to stand with me and fight for freedom as our patriot forefathers did for us?